… they came to subdue Umueri but failed to conquer
Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Sometime in the recent past, precisely at Amaeze Aguleri during the Investiture of Patrons of Eri Kingdom, the traditional ruler of Aguleri community, Eze Christopher Nwabunwanne Idigo Ogalagidi ll, had mentioned Aguleri, Igbariam, Nsugbe, Nteje, Nri and Oraeri as descendants of Eri Kingdom. The traditional ruler and some other persons who spoke to journalists unanimously concurred that Aguleri is the head and cradle of the Igbo nation; that every Igbo person has its roots in Aguleri from where they multiplied and spread to other clans and communities. They maintained that the history and evolution of the Igbo nation in Nigeria cannot be told without the pivotal role Aguleri played in being the historical settlement of Eri kingdom now the present day Igbo. This therefore implies that Ndigbo wherever they may be on planet earth have their origin from Aguleri.
But Elder Mike Edozieuno Ndive Aniegboka told our correspondent in his house in Umueri that he is a direct descendant of the High Priest that led the Igbo nation; that is Eri from the East of Jordan to the place presently called Umueri on Anambra river valley where every Igbo man purportedly started from. He explained that as at the time Umueri settled on the Omambala river bank, Aguleri was not in existence. Aniegboka said that was why they were called Umueri Oke-ebo meaning that they are ubiquitous.
He said, “Those people that launched themselves as descendants of Eri are strangers to us.” He said Igbariam, Nteje, Nsugbe and Aguleri were all aliens in Umueri heritage. He further disclosed that Nteje means Ntiji in Igala language and the first village in Nteje is called Umueji which he said migrated from Igala. Igbariam, according to him, is made up of two groups namely Onogu and Igbo and that it was after the war that the Ada people invaded them and they got amalgamated and became the present day Igbariam community.
Aniegboka also said that Nsugbe means Nsugba. He said Nsugbe people were migrants from different places like Igala, Asaba, Igbo who after sometime became Nsugba now known in the present day as Nsugbe community. Elder Aniegboka however stated that the people known as Aguleri were called Agu-eri and they migrated from Ibaji Igala in Kogi state.
He said, “We had war with Igala people and after the war there was peace. That was how Igala people started coming to us in the guise of communion and fellowship. So the Aguleri people migrated to our land in the sixteenth century. They came to Umueri as fishermen. Some came as native doctors and what have you. Aguleri people are not igbo. They are from Igala! It is now the strangers that came that are now claiming Eri heritage.”
The Nri people of Anaocha local government area of Anambra state according to him are from Umueri. He said the Adama clan in Nri do what we do in Umueri. He said Nri kingdom has Adama and Umudiani. Umueri also has Adama and Umudiani. He said in Enugwu-Ukwu, Njikoka local government area of Anambra state, they have Umuatolu and Umuatolu also exist in Umueri community. In Nawfia, according to him, they have Umunri-Amu. In Umueri, we also have Umunri-Amu. In other words, Nri people are from Umueri but they know how they left through the Ezu River and settled with Achala people in Awka-North local government area of Anambra state. He however maintained that the four communities claiming Eri heritage are all Igala migrants.
Aniegboka said that the Idigo dynasty was the founder of modern Aguleri because the Aguleris enlarged their numbers through oath-taking after a period of residence in the community, stressing that the state governor is not a native of Aguleri but a native of Igbariam descendants of the Igala community reiterating that Aguleri natives are mainly strangers to Eri Kingdom. He recalled that Aguleri people were fortunate to have received the Catholic missionaries when they arrived early while Umueri received the Anglican missionaries. He said it was the Catholic missionaries that helped to publicize Aguleri and they gained prominence. In spite of the claims by Aguleri people to be the true heritage of Eri Kingdom, when Nnamdi Kanu came according to him, the first place he visited was the cradle of the Igbo race which is Umueri kingdom. He pointed out that what Aguleri people did was what strangers do to every place they come to subdue the aborigins. “It is not new. They want to conquer Umueri but they cannot because they have nothing to show for it,” he said.
He said the bitter memories of the war between Aguleri and Umueri still linger because currently he cannot remember any Umueri person who is a government appointee of the present administration in Anambra state.